Based on data from MAGNiTT's new Q1 2021 MENA Fintech Venture Investment Report, it was a highly memorable quarter for the regional Fintech industry.
Fintech venture investments in MENA reached a three-year high in the first quarter of 2021, rising by 163% year-on-year and also rose by 70% from the last quarter of 2020. From a geographical perspective, Saudi Arabia saw the number of transactions more than tripling year-on-year, whilst total funding rose by an incredibly 2000%. Meanwhile, the UAE retained its leading position as a hub for the industry, with no less than 166 Fintech startups registered in the country.
At this point you might be wondering "We've seen plenty of numbers, but we want to know who were the startups at the forefront of driving the industry during this period." Without further ado, here is our shortlist of five MENA-based startups that closed the largest funding rounds in Q1 2021, backed by data as always.
Founded in 2017 by Abdulla Almoayed, Bahrain-based Tarabut Gateway is an Open Banking platform that connects a regional network of banks and Fintechs via a universal application programming interface (API). By offering the tools that would allow the facilitation and distribution of personalized financial services, the startup enables banks and Fintechs to build the future of financial services across the MENA region.
The Fintech startup secured a $13M Seed funding round, which also happened to be the largest Fintech Seed round in the MENA region. Tarabut Gateway's round was led by Target Global, with participation from investors including, Kingsway, CE Ventures, Entrée Capital, Zamil Investment Group, Global Ventures, Almoayed Technologies, and Mad’a Investment.
Tarabut Gateway intends to use the investment to further growth for the next year, by aiming to hire 40 additional team members across MENA by the end of 2021.
NymCard delivers leading-edge card issuing and processing solutions for financial institutions, banks, and Fintechs in the region. With proven technology, the platform digitizes the payment card experience end-to-end helping to cut down program costs and to launch innovative customer focussed propositions in a timeframe of fewer than 8 weeks.
The Lebanon-based startup was founded in 2017 by Omar Onsi, and raised a $7.6M Series A investment back in January, led by Shorooq Partners, with OTF Jasoor Ventures and VentureSouq also partaking in the round. NymCard will utilise the funds to support their growth within the MENA region.
Co-founded in 2019 by Osama AlRaee and Mohammad Jawabri, Lendo is a Saudi Arabian shari’ah compliant Fintech startup that offers SMEs a platform to digitally pre-finance their outstanding invoices.
Last month saw the startup close a $7.2M Series A fundraise led by Derayah Ventures, with participation from Seedra, Shorooq Partners, 500 Startups, and Impact46. Following the investment, Lendo will use the funds to accelerate plans to deepen its platform capabilities and expand the product offering with a more sector-focused solution-based approach.
4. NOW Money
NOW Money is a UAE-based startup which utilises mobile banking technology to improve the lives of low-income migrant workers in the UAE, by allowing them to have current accounts and access to a range of low-cost remittance services, thereby providing financial inclusion for them.
Established in 2016 by Ian Dillon and Katharine Budd, the Fintech startup recently secured a $7M Bridge investment led by Anthemis Exponential Ventures, with Knuru Capital, Wamda, Commercial Bank of Dubai, DIFC FinTech Fund, Accion Venture Lab, Greenhouse Capital, and Hambro Perks Oryx Fund also being involved in the round.
The Fintech startup will use the funds to facilitate growth in Saudi Arabia, with strategic new hires and local infrastructure in Riyadh, whilst also developing its service offering and build upon growth in the UAE.
The second Saudi Arabian Fintech startup that features on our list, Hala offers merchants a package of a POS device, a Visa/Mada card, an IBAN, and a simple app that gives them instant visibility on their transactions. It allows them to conduct multiple financial transactions including settling vendor and supplier payments as well as conducting in-bound and outbound transfers from and to bank accounts.
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